Greenhouse effect and global warming
Greenhouse effect caused by naturally occurring greenhouse gases is not at all harmful to the human kinds, animals or plants. It helps maintain the earth’s temperature at a mild, habitable and relatively even level.
No doubt… If there was no greenhouse effect, the earth wouldn’t have supported lives.
Let’s take a look at an example…. The moon!
The average distance to the moon from the sun is approximately the same as that of the earth. The moon has no sufficient gravity to retain an atmosphere and therefore, no active greenhouse effect. As a result, its surface temperature declines to -153 ˚C during the night-time even though its temperature may reach about 107 ˚C in the daytime .
See the difference!
The earth’s surface temperature would also have a very offensive variation in the daytime and night-time if there was no greenhouse effect to trap the heat from the sun in the daytime. Simply, the greenhouse effect is the temperature regulator of the earth.
Then WHY worry?
The problem arises when humans’ activities lead to boost the greenhouse effect making the effect more powerful and detrimental. We all contribute to the greenhouse effect …pumping tons of emissions into the atmosphere.
Directly or indirectly…
In various ways…..
You may be driving a car. You may be watching TV. Meanwhile…knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly…You are enhancing the greenhouse effect and are warming the earth.
What is enhanced greenhouse effect?
Earth’s surface temperature always remains at a higher temperature than the temperature we would expect without accounting for the atmosphere’s influence on it. Earth’s atmosphere’s influence on its surface temperature is what makes it a living planet, supporting life. However, some of our day to day activities (predominantly fossil fuel burning) boost the greenhouse effect leading to the global warming. The enhanced amount of the greenhouse effect is known as the enhanced greenhouse effect which results in global warming.
So, it is obviously manmade!
Different forcing factors
Many research projects have been devoted to find out the causes of global warming, to measure the individual influence of those causes and to model the changes in the climate system.
Following graphical representation quantitatively illustrates the contribution of different forcing factors to the global warming over the last century. It can be clearly observed that greenhouse gases were the main contributors. Unlike other forcing factors whose effects are either gradually decreasing or fluctuating, the effect of the greenhouse gases on the global warming has appallingly increased over time.
Figure 1: Impacts of different forcing factors on the global warming
The most important greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor and nitrous oxide. In addition, chlorofluorocarbons and some other gases contribute to the global warming and thus are greenhouse gases.
Most of the greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere and they are not harmful to the environment as long as they are in balance. They are very important to keep the planet warm. Earth would have become a cold, uninhabitable place and therefore another dead planet if its atmosphere contained no greenhouse gases. However, when their compositions exceed the natural level, the system becomes unbalanced leading to global warming which in turn brings natural disasters and extreme events.
When we look at all these things, we can realize that the global warming has now turned into a global war since the whole world has been affected. But….. There are some potential ways which can greatly help mitigate the problem of global warming and eventually to lower the global average temperature. We all have a responsibility in the battle with global warming.
From next article, we will mainly focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Read next: Climate change [ctd.]